The Museum of Policing in Cheshire
Feature Articles

john stuartSpecial Constable

 1199  John Stuart

A man of action, Mr. Stuart packed plenty into his 84 years of life. He has fought Red Indians in Canada, Boers in South Africa, Italians in the Western Desert and Germans in Europe.

Mr. Stuart was only in his early ‘teens when he first left England to join his uncle, who was a purchasing agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway.  He was not In Canada long before he had joined the Canadian Army and was posted to the North West territories, a vast, untracked wilderness In those days. Then there were no reservations and the Indian tribes which roamed the area had only one desire, to see the white man driven out.  Mr. Stuart had memories of helping to quell more than one Indian uprising in the icy North.

Tiring of the Army, he moved south to the United States of America and joined the American Merchant Navy, signing on as an ordinary seaman with the barque Herbert Black, plying along the Pacific shores of the American Continent.

In 1897, Mr. Stuart returned home to England and went back into uniform, this time with the 3rd Cheshire Volunteer Battalion, and he was fortunate enough to be chosen for the Guard of Honour at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London.

It was not long before the wanderlust seized Mr. Stuart again and as South Africa was at that time in the throes of a gold rush he decided to try his luck and set forth for the nugget crazy Rand as a prospector. He never “struck It rich“, indeed there were times when he barely managed to exist, but with the start of the Boer War Mr. Stuart donned uniform once more and joined Colonel Brandon known as the Great White Chief of Bulawayo as a scout. Mr. Stuart’s intimate knowledge of the country, gained while prospecting, valuable to him, particularly during the tough guerrilla warfare that followed the cessation of the main struggle.

Returning to England after the Boer War, Mr. Stuart took a civilian job In Manchester, but sedentary work was not for him and at the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the Cheshire Yeomanry, seeing active service in Egypt and France before being wounded and discharged on medical grounds.

Back in mufti he decided to combine a civilian career with his love of travel, and became a partner In a London firm supplying machinery to industrial concerns on the Continent.  In this capacity, Mr. Stuart travelled widely in Europe, living for one spell of 15 months in Prague, and had a wealth of humorous and intriguing Incidents to recall.

During the Second World War, Mr Stuart became a special constable in the Cheshire Constabulary and was commended for his gallantry in removing, an unexploded bomb from a shop during the night Sale was bombed in 1941.  As a member of the Special Constabulary he played his part during the visit to Altrincham in 1940 of the late King George VI, great-grandson of the Queen whose Jubilee Mr. Stuart saw celebrated.